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Van Morrison Cyprus Avenue concert: A birthday to remember as singer turns 70

Published 31/08/2015

Van Morrison as he performs at his birthday concert in Cyprus Avenue, east Belfast. Picture: Kevin Scott / Belfast Telegraph
Van Morrison as he performs at his birthday concert in Cyprus Avenue, east Belfast. Picture: Kevin Scott / Belfast Telegraph
Picture - Kevin Scott / Belfast Telegraph Belfast - Northern Ireland - Monday 31st August 2015 - Van Morrison birthday concert Pictured is crowds gathering for Van Morrison as he performs at his birthday concert in Cyprus Avenue, East Belfast Picture - Kevin Scott / Belfast Telegraph
Picture - Kevin Scott / Belfast Telegraph Belfast - Northern Ireland - Monday 31st August 2015 - Van Morrison birthday concert Pictured is Van Morrison as he performs at his birthday concert in Cyprus Avenue, East Belfast Picture - Kevin Scott / Belfast Telegraph
Picture - Kevin Scott / Belfast Telegraph Belfast - Northern Ireland - Monday 31st August 2015 - Van Morrison birthday concert Pictured is crowds gathering for Van Morrison as he performs at his birthday concert in Cyprus Avenue, East Belfast Picture - Kevin Scott / Belfast Telegraph
Picture - Kevin Scott / Belfast Telegraph Belfast - Northern Ireland - Monday 31st August 2015 - Van Morrison birthday concert Pictured is crowds gathering for Van Morrison as he performs at his birthday concert in Cyprus Avenue, East Belfast Picture - Kevin Scott / Belfast Telegraph
Picture - Kevin Scott / Belfast Telegraph Belfast - Northern Ireland - Monday 31st August 2015 - Van Morrison birthday concert Pictured is crowds gathering for Van Morrison as he performs at his birthday concert in Cyprus Avenue, East Belfast Picture - Kevin Scott / Belfast Telegraph
Picture - Kevin Scott / Belfast Telegraph Belfast - Northern Ireland - Monday 31st August 2015 - Van Morrison birthday concert Pictured is Van Morrison as he performs at his birthday concert in Cyprus Avenue, East Belfast Picture - Kevin Scott / Belfast Telegraph
Presseye Northern Ireland - Van Morrison Concert - Cyprus Avenue - 31st August 2015 Photograph by Declan Roughan - Presseye Van Morrison fans at the concert on Cyprus Avenue. Van Morrison celebrated his 70th birthday with two concerts on Cyprus Avenue, the area of Belfast where he spend much of his early years. Heavy rain did not dampen spirits of the large crowd.
Presseye Northern Ireland - Van Morrison Concert - Cyprus Avenue - 31st August 2015 Photograph by Declan Roughan - Presseye Arlene Foster at the Van Morrison concert on Cyprus Avenue. Van Morrison celebrated his 70th birthday with two concerts on Cyprus Avenue, the area of Belfast where he spend much of his early years. Heavy rain did not dampen spirits of the large crowd.
Presseye Northern Ireland - Van Morrison Concert - Cyprus Avenue - 31st August 2015 Photograph by Declan Roughan - Presseye Van Morrison on stage at the Cyprus Avenue concert. Van Morrison celebrated his 70th birthday with two concerts on Cyprus Avenue, the area of Belfast where he spend much of his early years. Heavy rain did not dampen spirits of the large crowd.
Presseye Northern Ireland - Van Morrison Concert - Cyprus Avenue - 31st August 2015 Photograph by Declan Roughan - Presseye Van Morrison fans at the concert on Cyprus Avenue. Van Morrison celebrated his 70th birthday with two concerts on Cyprus Avenue, the area of Belfast where he spend much of his early years. Heavy rain did not dampen spirits of the large crowd.
Picture - Kevin Scott / Belfast Telegraph Belfast - Northern Ireland - Monday 31st August 2015 - Van Morrison birthday concert Pictured is Van Morrison as he performs at his birthday concert in Cyprus Avenue, East Belfast Picture - Kevin Scott / Belfast Telegraph
Picture - Kevin Scott / Belfast Telegraph Belfast - Northern Ireland - Monday 31st August 2015 - Van Morrison birthday concert Pictured is crowds gathering for Van Morrison as he performs at his birthday concert in Cyprus Avenue, East Belfast Picture - Kevin Scott / Belfast Telegraph
Picture - Kevin Scott / Belfast Telegraph Belfast - Northern Ireland - Monday 31st August 2015 - Van Morrison birthday concert Pictured is Van Morrison as he performs at his birthday concert in Cyprus Avenue, East Belfast Picture - Kevin Scott / Belfast Telegraph
Picture - Kevin Scott / Belfast Telegraph Belfast - Northern Ireland - Monday 31st August 2015 - Van Morrison birthday concert Pictured is Van Morrison as he performs at his birthday concert in Cyprus Avenue, East Belfast Picture - Kevin Scott / Belfast Telegraph
Picture - Kevin Scott / Belfast Telegraph Belfast - Northern Ireland - Monday 31st August 2015 - Van Morrison birthday concert Pictured is crowds gathering for Van Morrison as he performs at his birthday concert in Cyprus Avenue, East Belfast Picture - Kevin Scott / Belfast Telegraph
Picture - Kevin Scott / Belfast Telegraph Belfast - Northern Ireland - Monday 31st August 2015 - Van Morrison birthday concert Pictured is Van Morrison as he performs at his birthday concert in Cyprus Avenue, East Belfast Picture - Kevin Scott / Belfast Telegraph
Picture - Kevin Scott / Belfast Telegraph Belfast - Northern Ireland - Monday 31st August 2015 - Van Morrison birthday concert Pictured is crowds gathering for Van Morrison as he performs at his birthday concert in Cyprus Avenue, East Belfast Picture - Kevin Scott / Belfast Telegraph
Picture - Kevin Scott / Belfast Telegraph Belfast - Northern Ireland - Monday 31st August 2015 - Van Morrison birthday concert Pictured is Van Morrison as he performs at his birthday concert in Cyprus Avenue, East Belfast Picture - Kevin Scott / Belfast Telegraph
Picture - Kevin Scott / Belfast Telegraph Belfast - Northern Ireland - Monday 31st August 2015 - Van Morrison birthday concert Pictured is crowds gathering for Van Morrison as he performs at his birthday concert in Cyprus Avenue, East Belfast Picture - Kevin Scott / Belfast Telegraph
Picture - Kevin Scott / Belfast Telegraph Belfast - Northern Ireland - Monday 31st August 2015 - Van Morrison birthday concert Pictured is crowds gathering for Van Morrison as he performs at his birthday concert in Cyprus Avenue, East Belfast Picture - Kevin Scott / Belfast Telegraph
Picture - Kevin Scott / Belfast Telegraph Belfast - Northern Ireland - Monday 31st August 2015 - Van Morrison birthday concert Pictured is Van Morrison as he performs at his birthday concert in Cyprus Avenue, East Belfast Picture - Kevin Scott / Belfast Telegraph
Picture - Kevin Scott / Belfast Telegraph Belfast - Northern Ireland - Monday 31st August 2015 - Van Morrison birthday concert Pictured is Van Morrison as he performs at his birthday concert in Cyprus Avenue, East Belfast Picture - Kevin Scott / Belfast Telegraph
Picture - Kevin Scott / Belfast Telegraph Belfast - Northern Ireland - Monday 31st August 2015 - Van Morrison birthday concert Pictured is crowds gathering for Van Morrison as he performs at his birthday concert in Cyprus Avenue, East Belfast Picture - Kevin Scott / Belfast Telegraph
Picture - Kevin Scott / Belfast Telegraph Belfast - Northern Ireland - Monday 31st August 2015 - Van Morrison birthday concert Pictured is crowds gathering for Van Morrison as he performs at his birthday concert in Cyprus Avenue, East Belfast Picture - Kevin Scott / Belfast Telegraph
Picture - Kevin Scott / Belfast Telegraph Belfast - Northern Ireland - Monday 31st August 2015 - Van Morrison birthday concert Pictured is Van Morrison as he performs at his birthday concert in Cyprus Avenue, East Belfast Picture - Kevin Scott / Belfast Telegraph
Picture - Kevin Scott / Belfast Telegraph Belfast - Northern Ireland - Monday 31st August 2015 - Van Morrison birthday concert Pictured is crowds gathering for Van Morrison as he performs at his birthday concert in Cyprus Avenue, East Belfast Picture - Kevin Scott / Belfast Telegraph
Picture - Kevin Scott / Belfast Telegraph Belfast - Northern Ireland - Monday 31st August 2015 - Van Morrison birthday concert Pictured is Van Morrison as he performs at his birthday concert in Cyprus Avenue, East Belfast Picture - Kevin Scott / Belfast Telegraph
Picture - Kevin Scott / Belfast Telegraph Belfast - Northern Ireland - Monday 31st August 2015 - Van Morrison birthday concert Pictured is crowds gathering for Van Morrison as he performs at his birthday concert in Cyprus Avenue, East Belfast Picture - Kevin Scott / Belfast Telegraph
Pacemaker Press Belfast 30/08/2015: Van Morrison play's Belfast's Cyprus Avenue on 70th birthday. It is a quiet, leafy street in east Belfast that has inspired two songs on one of the greatest albums of all time. Van Morrison is returns to Cyprus Avenue to perform two concerts on his 70th birthday. Fans have travelled from across the world to attend the gigs that are the climax of the EastSide Arts Festival. Picture By: Colm Lenaghan.
Picture - Kevin Scott / Belfast Telegraph Belfast - Northern Ireland - Monday 31st August 2015 - Van Morrison birthday concert Pictured is Van Morrison as he performs at his birthday concert in Cyprus Avenue, East Belfast Picture - Kevin Scott / Belfast Telegraph
Picture - Kevin Scott / Belfast Telegraph Belfast - Northern Ireland - Monday 31st August 2015 - Van Morrison birthday concert Pictured is Van Morrison as he performs at his birthday concert in Cyprus Avenue, East Belfast Picture - Kevin Scott / Belfast Telegraph
Pacemaker Press Belfast 30/08/2015: Van Morrison play's Belfast's Cyprus Avenue on 70th birthday. It is a quiet, leafy street in east Belfast that has inspired two songs on one of the greatest albums of all time. Van Morrison is returns to Cyprus Avenue to perform two concerts on his 70th birthday. Fans have travelled from across the world to attend the gigs that are the climax of the EastSide Arts Festival. Picture By: Colm Lenaghan.
Pacemaker Press Belfast 30/08/2015: Van Morrison play's Belfast's Cyprus Avenue on 70th birthday. It is a quiet, leafy street in east Belfast that has inspired two songs on one of the greatest albums of all time. Van Morrison is returns to Cyprus Avenue to perform two concerts on his 70th birthday. Fans have travelled from across the world to attend the gigs that are the climax of the EastSide Arts Festival. Picture By: Colm Lenaghan.
Picture - Kevin Scott / Belfast Telegraph Belfast - Northern Ireland - Monday 31st August 2015 - Van Morrison birthday concert Pictured is Van Morrison as he performs at his birthday concert in Cyprus Avenue, East Belfast Picture - Kevin Scott / Belfast Telegraph
Picture - Kevin Scott / Belfast Telegraph Belfast - Northern Ireland - Monday 31st August 2015 - Van Morrison birthday concert Pictured is crowds gathering for Van Morrison as he performs at his birthday concert in Cyprus Avenue, East Belfast Picture - Kevin Scott / Belfast Telegraph
Pacemaker Press Belfast 30/08/2015: Van Morrison play's Belfast's Cyprus Avenue on 70th birthday. It is a quiet, leafy street in east Belfast that has inspired two songs on one of the greatest albums of all time. Van Morrison is returns to Cyprus Avenue to perform two concerts on his 70th birthday. Fans have travelled from across the world to attend the gigs that are the climax of the EastSide Arts Festival. Picture By: Colm Lenaghan.
Picture - Kevin Scott / Belfast Telegraph Belfast - Northern Ireland - Monday 31st August 2015 - Van Morrison birthday concert Pictured is Van Morrison as he performs at his birthday concert in Cyprus Avenue, East Belfast Picture - Kevin Scott / Belfast Telegraph

Van Morrison has celebrated his 70th birthday with once-in-a-lifetime concerts on the east Belfast street he immortalised in his masterpiece Astral Weeks.

Three thousand fans squeezed into Cyprus Avenue - the "avenue of trees" as he called it in the seminal album - for two intimate shows in the epicentre of his homeland.

Hundreds travelled from dozens of countries for what had become a pilgrimage, since the gigs were first announced last year.

Tickets which quickly sold out with a face value between £50 and £80 traded on online auction sites for up to £400.

Despite the heavens opening for a deluge of rain at the start of his first show at 3pm, poncho-covered devotees gave the six-time Grammy award winner a standing ovation.

Opening songs included classics Moondance, Brown Eyed Girl and Baby Please Don't Go.

Politicians, playwrights, screen actors and fellow musicians, including Sex and the City star Kim Cattrall and television celebrity chef Rick Stein, were among those who braved the weather for the special birthday concerts.

Rick Haught, 57, travelled from Eugene, Oregon in the US, with his wife Carla, for the first show, the climax of Belfast's EastSide Arts Festival.

"I'd be lying if I told you when I stepped onto Cyprus Avenue I didn't get goose bumps," he said.

"I always wanted to see Van in Belfast, but to see him on his birthday on this street is something special."

Van was born and bred in Belfast.
Van was born and bred in Belfast.
The singer has gone on to global success from his humble beginnings in east Belfast..
VAN MORRISON/SINGER
Van has sampled global success.
Van has toured the world with his unique singing style.
Van has sampled global success.
Van during his time with group 'Them'.
Van 'The Man' Morrison.
Angry Van Morrison approaches photographer Charles Cochroft, the only photgrapher to capture his arrival at Belfast International Airport in June 1980.
Van trying to stop the photographer taking his picture at Belfast International Airport.
Van Morrison and Eric Clapton backstage at the Royal Albert Hall in 2009. The paired performed Van's classic 1968 recording of Astral Weeks.
Morrison performs on stage during his concert at the Blue Balls Festival in Lucerne, Switzerland, Friday, July 22, 2005.
Van Morrison performs on the Pyramid Stage, during the Glastonbury Festival at Worthy Farm in Somerset Sunday 26 June 2005.
Van performs on the Pyramid Stage in June 1989.
Radio star Van in his younger days.
Van played in the jazz band Them.
Michael Buble and Van Morrison perform at the 46th Annual Songwriters Hall Of Fame.
Van Morrison before a Concert in 1964.
Van and Jerry Lee Lewis.
Van Morrison received an honorary doctorate from Queen's University Belfast.
A young Van Morrison.
Van (centre) with the Chieftains.
Michelle Rocca and Van.
With Michelle Rocca.
Van Morrison and Michelle Rocca
With Gigi Lee
Singer-songwriter Shana Morrison with her father Sir Van Morrison.
With Rory McIlroy ahead of the 2015 Irish Open at Royal County Down, hosted by the Holywood golfer.
Morrison was granted Freedom of the City of Belfast in 2013.
Van returns to his east Belfast roots.

Mr Haught has travelled to 12 US states to see the enigmatic star and has been planning this trip for over a year.

"It's the soundtrack to everything I've done for the last 40 odd years," he added.

Mark Keown, 54, from Sandford Avenue in east Belfast, grew up among the local place names made famous the world over on countless Van Morrison albums.

"This is all very familiar to us, so when you listen to something like Cyprus Avenue you know exactly where it is - you have a sense of the geography as well as the poetry of the song," he said.

"I've seen him loads of times before but this is an historic occasion.

"We couldn't miss this - this is really special, it's right up there with the best gigs we've ever seen."

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Poignant pilgrimage down Van Morrison's memory lane  

On a day like this, we salute our special songsmith Van Morrison's milestone

The recently-knighted genre-defying singer and multi-instrumentalist was born close to Cyprus Avenue, in a small two-up two-down on Hyndford Street, on August 31 1945.

A brass plaque marks the house he shared with his mother Violet and his father George, who worked as an electrician at the nearby Harland and Wolff shipyard.

He once described the much more affluent, 85-tree lined Cyprus Avenue up the road as "a very mystical place" and somewhere "where I could think".

Broadcaster, former NME writer and self-confessed "Vanorak" Stuart Bailie said the show was "the equivalent of Paul McCartney doing a gig on Penny Lane".

"It is a major, global international name back in his homeland, playing on a street he has celebrated in song," he said.

"In east Belfast you are walking into this musical map he has given the world.

"People say you can recreate Georgian Dublin by reading James Joyce's Ulysses, and what you can do by listening to a series of key Van Morrison songs is understand what post-war east Belfast was like."

He added: "He has painted this incredible vivid picture and Cyprus Avenue is on the hill in this quarter, on higher ground, it looks like a Parisienne boulevard.

"You can connect to the sense of wonder when you are there, to see where he came from down the road, and what he aspired to up the road, and there he is on his 70th birthday right in the thick of it getting respect from everybody."

 

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